Guyana Birdwatching Small Group Tour

An amazing wildlife and birding destination at an incredible price with Kaieteur Falls extension

Guyana Birdwatching Small Group Tour

On this tour to Guyana you will discover a stunning country full of surprises, geographical extremes, biological and cultural diversity. You will have many opportunities to interact with the local people, while visiting their villages and jungle lodges. You will have the time to marvel at several unique areas of relatively undiscovered Guyana, such as the Atta Rainforest and Surama  – where you will have the opportunity to look for an active nest of Harpy Eagles. There will even be a chance to see the elusive Jaguar.

There is an opportunity to add on a two-day extension including Kaieteur Falls at the end of the tour and if you wish, a few days in Trinidad can also be added on.

Join us on the adventure of a lifetime visiting this unique wildlife destination that is still very much off the beaten track.

We are offering this itinerary as a Small Group Tour on the following dates:
10th – 19th February 2020
9th – 18th November 2020
22nd February – 3rd March 2021 

With the Kaieteur Falls extension:
10th – 21st February 2020
9th – 20th November 2020
22nd February – 5th March 2021

ACTIVITIES

  • Active

  • Culture

  • Hiking

  • Photography

  • Wildlife

  • Caribbean & Latin America Birdwatching

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1

Travel from the UK to Guyana via Trinidad. You will be met at Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Georgetown and transferred to your hotel. Located in Guyana on the East Coast of Demerara, just minutes from the capital city of Georgetown, is the Grand Coastal Hotel. This hotel is a boutique international hotel with excellent services and accommodation along with restaurant and bar, gym and pool. Overnight in a deluxe room at Grand Coastal Hotel. B

Day 2

After breakfast transfer a short distance to the Ogle airstrip for flight over the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers to land at Annai airstrip. Vehicle transfer from airstrip to Surama Eco-Lodge.

The Amerindian community of Surama is located in the heart of Guyana. The village is set in five square miles of savannah which is ringed by the forest covered Pakaraima Mountains. Surama’s inhabitants are mainly from the Macushi tribe and still observe many of the traditional practises of their forebears.

This isolated and idyllic location offers an escape from the concrete jungle to a serene and peaceful existence with nature. The guides have lived their entire lives in the rainforest, and have an incredible understanding of nature and how to utilise its resources.

On arrival in Surama you will receive a warm welcome from local staff and settle into your accommodation at the Surama Eco-lodge. A local guide will escort you for a short walk on trails to observe the forest and bird life. As the afternoon cools your guide will take you on a tour of the village. Visit the local school, medical centre and church along with some of the village houses. Tonight enjoy an educational walk to observe wildlife and experience the mystique of the forest after dark. Overnight at Surama Eco-lodge. BLD

Day 3

Rise before dawn for a walk across the savannah and then a climb up Surama Mountain for incredible views across the village and savannah to the Pakaraima Mountains. The walk will be taken slowly looking for birds and wildlife along the way and is not a technical climb but can be arduous, especially after rain, and is not for everyone. Your guides will happily offer alternative activities if you prefer not to do this climb.

Return to village for lunch and then take a three mile walk across the savannah and through the rainforest to the Burro Burro River. Your guides will then paddle you on the Burro Burro River for opportunities to observe Giant River Otters, Tapir, Tira, Spider Monkeys and many more species. Return to village for sunset. Overnight at Surama Eco-lodge. BLD

Day 4

Enjoy dawn breaking across the rainforest. This morning you can choose between taking an early morning forest walk to look for wildlife and birds or you can relax around the lodge before breakfast and departure time.

The journey will then continue on to the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway, stopping at a nearby Harpy Eagle nest, if active. The nest itself is located in a huge emergent tree only a couple of miles from the village and if you are fortunate, you may see one of the adult birds bringing a sloth or monkey to the nest to feed their chick.  The trek into the nest site is about an hour each way on a reasonable trail.

Travel on through the rainforest to Corkwood in the Iwokrama Forest. Here there is a comparatively short trail to the location where you will hopefully see the amazingly brilliant Guianian Cock-of-the-rock. This trail is through interesting forest and the guides can show you the use of the plants to be found here.

The Iwokrama Canopy Walkway is situated at Mauisparu, near the southern boundary of the Iwokrama Reserve in central Guyana. The walkway has four suspension bridges leading to three platforms, the highest of which is over 30 metres above the ground, and these will allow great looks at a range of canopy species, many of which you would struggle to see well from the forest floor.

Another area where we will want to spend some time is the clearing around the lodge, as this is one of the best places to see another of Guyana’s “must see” birds, the Crimson Fruitcrow. This species is seen here on a reasonably regular basis, as it often comes to feed in some of the nearby trees. The clearing is also a reliable site for Black Curassow as there is a family party which has become habituated to people and regularly passes through the clearing. With reasonable luck, you should be able to add this bird to the impressive list of species you will see around the lodge and walkway.

Atta Rainforest Lodge is 500 metres from the base of the Canopy Walkway, offering comfortable private-room accommodation with ensuite bathrooms, delicious home-cooked meals, and traditional Amerindian hospitality. The lodge is completely surrounded by tropical rainforest which offers a complete immersion in the rainforest experience. The main building is open sided with views across the gardens to the towering forest on all sides and houses the bar, dining area and kitchen. Overnight at Atta Rainforest Lodge. BLD

Day 5  

Before dawn we will return to the canopy where we can bird watch easily and from this tree top vantage Red Howler Monkeys and Black Spider Monkeys are sometimes seen.

Apart from the Iwokrama Canopy Walkway itself you can enjoy wildlife and bird watching walks on the trails around the area. For those interested in botany many of the trails have the key tree species marked. Many bird species, stunning insects, noisy amphibians, and playful primates make the surrounding forest their home and you can be fairly certain to spot some extraordinary wildlife without even trying too hard. Deer and agouti are also regular visitors to the lodge. Serious birders will want to search the undergrowth for the rarely seen Rufous-winged Ground-cuckoo.

As darkness falls on the canopy walkway, you may see the White-winged Potoo. Night walks are also possible and something interesting or new always seems to pop on to the scene and this might include the occasional jaguar (panthera onca) along the transnational road near the lodge. Overnight at Atta Rainforest Lodge. BLD

Day 6 – Saturday, 16 February 2019   

Welcome the dawn chorus from the canopy walkway and then return to the lodge for breakfast before departure. Transfer by vehicle along the trail that is one of the best places to see the elusive Jaguar. The Iwokrama forest is rapidly gaining an international reputation for its healthy jaguar populations that seem not to be troubled by the appearance of curious humans. No promises, but many have been lucky! This road is the only north – south access in Guyana and links the country to Brazil. Even so traffic is only very occasional and wildlife is often seen along the road, such as Agouti, Tayra, Puma, Tapir and Black Curassow. The journey concludes at the Iwokrama River Lodge.

The Iwokrama Rainforest is a vast wilderness of one million acres. This protected area was established in 1996 as the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development. The Iwokrama Forest is in the heart of one of four last untouched tropical forests of the world – The Guiana Shield of North-Eastern South America. Iwokrama was established as a living laboratory for tropical forest management because the unsustainable utilisation of these forests will result in the extinction of half the world’s plant and animal species and unknown changes to global climate.

This is a protected area with a difference – the full involvement of people. Iwokrama is exceptional among conservation organizations because it joins with local people in every aspect of its work. From research to business, Iwokrama ensures local economic and social benefits from forest use and conservation. The Forest is in the homeland of the Makushi people, who have lived here and used the forest for thousands of years. People are a vital part of the ecosystem. The success of Iwokrama relies on the ownership of local people and the combined skills of specialists and communities. Iwokrama does what so many International conventions have acknowledged as best practice. It has begun conservation locally and integrated conservation into national development.

The Iwokrama River Lodge is set overlooking the Essequibo River. Accommodation is offered in eight spacious timber cabins with shingle roofs, bathroom facilities and veranda overlooking the river. Running water and flush toilets are standard, however water is not heated (and rarely desired in the tropical heat). Electricity is provided by a combination of solar and diesel generator systems, and wireless internet access is provided for free in the main building. Meals are served buffet-style in the Fred Allicock dining hall, where you can mingle with the rangers, administrative and scientific staff.

Explore the trails around the lodge with an Iwokrama Ranger. Iwokrama is home to many bird species including Capunchin bird, Black Nunbird, Chestnut-rumped Woodcreeper, Amazonian Antshrike, Brown-bellied Antwren, Spot-tailed Antwren, Todd’s Antwren, Spotted Puffbird, Green Aracari, Guianan Toucanet, Guianan Red Cotinga, Pompadour Cotinga, Rufous-crowned Elaenia, Bronzy Jacamar, Chestnut & Waved Woodpecker, Gray Antbird, and Strong-billed Woodcreeper. Three other Neotropical species in the Iwokrama forest of high interest are White-winged Potoo, Rufous Potoo, and Rufous-winged Ground-cuckoo. The forest is also home to many mammals and you may see Red-rumped Agouti and various species of monkey including Red Howler, Black Spider and Wedge-capped and Brown Capuchins.

After dark we’ll set out on the river, in hope of finding one or another of its four species of caiman, and listen for night birds such as Spectacled Owl, White-winged Potoo, Rufous Potoo, Long-tailed Potoo, Zigzag Heron or Blackish Nightjar. We may see one or another of the four species of caiman, and most certainly snakes including Cox boa, tree frogs and if lucky maybe some mammals. Maybe even a puma or capybara. Overnight at Iwokrama River Lodge BLD

Day 7

Making an early start, we’ll embark on the Essequibo River and circumnavigate nearby Indian House Island, before returning to the River Lodge for breakfast.

We will then leave the lodge by boat, birdwatching along the way, for the hike to Turtle Mountain. A well-maintained trail winds through the forest before an exhilarating climb up the mountain to its summit at 935ft (approx. 360m). It takes 1 3/4hrs to walk up the mountain, but the effort is more than worth it for the breathtaking views over the forest canopy when you get there and chances of Green Aracari, White Bellbird or a fly-by of one of five types of eagles. This trail is also a great location for seeing Black Spider Monkey and Red Howler Monkey and if you are very lucky even a Jaguar. This pristine forest offers huge buttress trees and the endemic Greenheart, a highly sought after hardwood. If you think this hike may be too strenuous you can take an alternative boat trip to Stanley Lake to search for Giant River Otters and Black Caiman.

As the afternoon cools we will set out on a boat trip to visit Kurupukari Falls to see the Amerindian petroglyphs, but this trip is dependent on the water level. Later this afternoon we will take a drive through the forest in an area known for Jaguar sightings. This elusive cat is on the top of everyone’s wildlife list and whilst not guaranteed there is a reasonable chance you could be fortunate and have a sighting. Apart from Jaguar there are other wildlife opportunities along this corridor. Overnight at Iwokrama River Lodge BLD

Day 8 

Pick up from Iwokrama River Lodge and transfer to Fair View airstrip, where we will board a scheduled flight for the return journey over hundreds of miles of tropical rainforest to land at Eugene F. Correia International Airport. Pickup and transfer from airport to your hotel in Georgetown.

At around 3.00 pm we will be transferred to the extensive and beautiful Georgetown Botanical Gardens where, if we are lucky, we will have more views of the Blood-coloured Woodpecker. This astonishingly colourful Veniliornis is found only in the Guianas and even there almost wholly limited to the narrow coastal plain. The gardens host Snail Kite, Gray Hawk, Pearl Kite, Carib Grackle, Red-bellied Macaw, and Red-shouldered. We will walk on trails in the back of the gardens and may see Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Black-crested Antshrike, Silver-beaked Tanager, Buff-breasted Wren, Golden-spangled Piculet and Ashy-headed Greenlet.

Return to your hotel just minutes from the capital city of Georgetown. Overnight in a deluxe room at Grand Coastal Hotel B

Day 9

Pickup and transfer to Cheddi Jagan International Airport for your departing flight or alternatively, extend your holiday by two days.

Optional Two-Day Extension including Kaieteur Falls 

Day 9

Early this morning, we will travel eastward from Georgetown to look for Blood-coloured Woodpecker and Rufous Crab-Hawk. The woodpecker can only be found on a narrow coastal strip, which runs eastward for just a few hundred miles, and finding this species will be one of our main priorities. We will also look for the poorly-known White-bellied Piculet which can also be found in this area. An area of mangrove less than 50 kilometres from Georgetown is a good place to find Rufous Crab-Hawk, a species which has been badly affected by the reduction in this habitat type. This is also a reliable site for the Woodpecker and Piculet, so we stand an excellent chance of seeing all three species. On our return journey to Georgetown, we will visit some mudflats where we are likely to find a range of waders as well as Scarlet Ibis, Black Skimmer, Brown Pelican and Magnificent Frigatebird. If time permits, we may also visit a heronry where Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night-herons, Little Blue Herons and Cattle and Snowy Egrets breed alongside Snail Kites.

We will then proceed to Eugene F. Correia International Airport to take a scheduled flight over the Demerara and Essequibo Rivers and hundreds of miles of unbroken tropical rainforest to land at Kaieteur Falls, the world’s highest free-falling waterfall. The Falls, which was first seen by a European on 29th April 1870, is situated in the heart of Guyana on the Potaro River, a tributary of the Essequibo. The water of Kaieteur, one of the worlds natural wonders, flows over a sandstone conglomerate tableland into a deep gorge – a drop of 741 feet or 5 times the height of Niagara Falls. There are no other falls in the world with the magnitude of the sheer drop existing at Kaieteur. Amerindian legend of the Patamona tribe has it that Kai, one of the tribe’s chiefs (after whom the falls is named), committed self-sacrifice by canoeing himself over the falls. It was believed this would encourage the Great Spirit Makonaima to save the tribe from being destroyed by the savage Caribishi.

Kaieteur supports a unique micro environment with Tank Bromeliads, the largest in the world, in which the tiny Golden frog spends its entire life and the rarely seen Guiana Cock- of-the-rock nesting close by. The lucky visitor may also see the famous flights of the Kaieteur Swifts or Makonaima Birds which nest under the vast shelf of rock carved by the centuries of water, hidden behind the eternal curtain of falling water.

On your return to Eugene F. Correia International Airport, you will be picked up and transferred back to Georgetown, this time to lovely Cara Lodge, which was built in the 1840’s and originally consisted of two houses. It has a long and romantic history and was the home of the first Lord Mayor of Georgetown. Over the years, the property has been visited by many dignitaries including King Edward VII who stayed at the house in 1923. Other dignitaries have included President Jimmy Carter, HRH Prince Charles, HRH Prince Andrew and Mick Jagger. This magnificent home turned hotel offers the tradition and nostalgia of a bygone era, complete with service and comfort in a congenial family atmosphere. Overnight at Cara Lodge. BL

Day 10

Enjoy a morning tour of the Bourda Market with Chef, Delvin Adams. Explore the many sections of this extensive open-air market as you get a glimpse of the abundance of fruits and vegetables available in Guyana. Your guide, Delvin, will point out exotic fruits and vegetables as you purchase items, which will later be used to prepare your lunch. After your market experience, return with Delvin to his home and join him in his “backyard Café”, literally in his backyard under the arbour covered with passion fruit vines. We will try different juices and Delvin will prepare a wonderful lunch using the ingredients you bought in the market. He is famous for his fish dishes, some of which he can prepare right in front of you. Feel free to join in or just relax as Chef Delvin walks you through his culinary creations. You may be hard pressed to find room for dessert so remember to pace yourself as you go through the courses.

After lunch we will take a tour through the heart of the city to the Stabroek Market area. Here you will join the afternoon commuters using the old ferry stelling to board the river taxis which are used to cross the Demerara River. The river taxis are an alternative route to using the Demerara Harbour Bridge. As you slowly cruise along the bank of the Demerara River, your guide will give you a brief history and facts of the famous buildings along the waterfront. We then continue our trip to see the Demerara Harbour Bridge, once the longest floating bridge in the world at a total length of 1,851m long. It was commissioned on 2 July 1978 and was only designed to last for 10 years, yet it is still going strong. As the sun sets over the river, you may witness the flock of brilliant Egrets and Scarlet Ibis as they fly across the skies and settle into the Mangroves for the evening. Soon after dusk, we return to the ferry stelling, enjoying the city lights from the river. Overnight at Cara Lodge. BL

Day 11

Pickup and transfer to Cheddi Jagan International Airport for your departing flight to Trinidad with connections on to London. B

Day 12

Arrive back to the UK.